Healthy Connectedness To Nature

Spiritual well being or spirituality is one of your nine dimensions instrumental in maintaining your overall holistic optimum health.  It is vitally important that your spiritual dimension remain in balance with the other eight dimensions, per a “Benefits To A Healthy Lifestyle” article, as it is just as important that they also remain in balance and interconnected with each other in order to experience true sustainable life-long holistic health and well being in a state of spirituality.

According to a Mayo Clinic 2019 “Spirituality and Stress Relief: Make the Connection” study, spirituality involves your inner connectedness with self, mind-body-spirit, and the universal life force, which is much greater and boundless than ourselves, which are achieved through, and are the most important Benefits With Meditation.

Being in touch with your spirituality typically involves a search for meaning in life, according to University of Minnesota 2016 “What Is Spirituality?” research on spirituality.  Quoting the research:

People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

That inner and outer connectedness is what keeps you balanced spiritually and in optimal health and well being, and in balance with all other dimension and the universe.  According to recent research, like this National Institutes of Health (NIH) reviewed older 2001 Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings research, in the past few decades physicians have attempted to balance their care by reclaiming medicine’s more spiritual roots, recognizing that until modern times spirituality was often linked with health care.

Spiritual or “compassionate” care involves serving the whole person which includes the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.  Addressing the spiritual aspect of patients can be an important element in the way patients face chronic illness, suffering, and loss.

On a personal level, this connectedness, this spirituality, is best achieved through meditation and mindfulness, determined a 2017 Frontiers In Psychology (NIH) study, as you come to realization that you are stardust, which, somehow miraculously, you came alive for your own unique purpose, as all other living entities in the vastness of space we call the universe, have over eons.

Connecting To the Heavens Through Spirituality

Here is the way Wikipedia defines meditation and spirituality,

… a practice where an individual uses technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought, or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.  Meditation is used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception, self-concept, and well being.  Meditation is being researched for effectiveness in aiding psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular disorders.

For more information from Wikipedia on meditation, read here.

“……….Spirituality is not religion………but it is existence and purpose to find meaning, understanding, and connection with something much greater……………..

Researchers out of the University of Minnesota-Columbia in a 2012 “Spirituality Correlates to Better Mental Health Regardless of Religion” study, determined that spirituality correlates to better mental health regardless of religion.  Despite differences in rituals and beliefs among the world’s major religions, spirituality often enhances health regardless of a person’s faith, according to the study.   Spirituality enhances health and wellness, particularly mental well being, and should play more of a role in health care treatment.

One important 2011 ISRN Psychiatry study reviewed by the NIH confirmed that individuals with higher spirituality levels and strong religious practices had an 18 percent reduction in mortality rates.  Being balanced spiritually is your ability to develop the desire and determination to integrate and experience new and deeper meaning and purpose in life through your connectedness with self, others, and the power greater than oneself, resulting in physical and mental health, happiness, and satisfaction within yourself and your life.

SAMHSA, in a “Defining Spirituality/Religion” research, addressed the role of spirituality and religion in promoting positive physical and behavioral health in public health settings in this study, finding individuals who identify as being religious or spiritual report lower rates of psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Spirituality and Healing Through Nature

A good example of spirituality and a mental health connection is a 2015 Psychological Medicine (NIH) study showing that spirituality intervention treatments have a positive affect on mental health patients, particularly in reducing anxiety.  In the physical realm, research such as this NIH-reviewed study, also shows how spirituality and mindfulness benefits in caring for chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

The 2015 study published in the journal of Cancer Management and Research (NIH) study, found that mindfulness-based interventions can help lower psychological distress, sleep disturbance, and fatigue, as well as promote a better quality of life in people with cancer.

During the process in developing your new spirituality, you will be become more tolerant of others’ beliefs, as well, without becoming disassociated with others, as religion dogmas becomes less important.

For the women in this 2013 International Journal Aging and Human Development reviewed by NIH study, the essence of their spirituality lies in: being profoundly grateful; engaging in complete acceptance; completely tolerant; and having a strong sense of assuredness, while stressing the linkages and importance of spirituality. Implications for understanding spirituality for older adults are considered.

There is evidence of a new beginning, a rebirth for mankind in spirituality, with the rise and popularity of non-denominational religious institutions globally, and the decline in traditional religions institutions and the teachings of old traditional religious doctrine.  According to 2014 Oregon State University “Religion, Spirituality Influence Health in Different But Complementary Ways” research, there is a distinct difference between religion and spirituality, but they are both complementary on health and well being.  Putting it simply, religion helps regulate behavior and health habits, while spirituality regulates your emotions, how you feel, and your connectedness to all things.

People, with very diverse backgrounds, and from every corner of the world are searching for true inner peace, love, fellowship, and goodness in life, their spirituality, and not just a particular or traditional religious instrument or instruction, or limited interpretation of the Bible or other religious doctrine, as discussed in a International Journal of Peace “Spirituality, Religion, Culture, And Peace” research by Linda Groeff, California State University, and Paul Smoker, Antioch College.  This movement of non-denominational worship is encouraging and an important step of achieving and maintaining your spirituality because you’re not limited to a specific religious doctrine.

The Nature-Spiritual Well Being Connection

Seeking a true and balanced spirituality, begins with a question to self.  “Who am I?”  Ancient teachings described human beings as having five facets of existence and experience:  your surroundings or environment, your physical body, your mind or intellect, your intuition, and self, or spirit.

the wonder and beauty of nature

Your connection with your surrounding and nature, is your first and foremost important facet of your existence.  If your environment or surroundings are pristine, healthy, thriving, and positive, it will have a positive and beneficial impact on all the facets of your existence, including your health and well being, balancing them, bringing you a greater sense of peace and understanding of your self, and others, per a 2002 NIH “Human Health and the Natural Environment” study.

According to Wikipedia, the greatest mind of our times, Albert Einstein believed in a “cosmic spiruality”, or the concept that the universe and the natural order of things and how humans relate originates in a deep sense of awe and mystery.  Quoting Einstein,

…the individual feels the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves in nature and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.

Having an intimate relationship with nature is programmed into your psyche.  Since the beginning of time, nature has always been held in reverence, held in high regard, and honored by early man, or in modern-day terms, our early ancestors practiced “environmental ethics”.  To learn more about environmental ethics, read this peer-reviewed study in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Today you live in a world that has moved away from connecting with nature and it’s life-giving benefits, by systematically polluting and destroying it and abandoning it.  These actions have disrupted ecological balance, by not only destroying nature physically, but also bringing one deep negative emotions within oneself, one’s own consciousness; which are innate and one isn’t even aware of these emotions, as conveyed in a 2019 Springer Link “The Consciousness of Reality” study.  These negative energies expand out of control, affecting a significant portion of the population, and the result is the violence, destruction, declining health, and misery that is all around you now and in the entire world.

A 2017 Sage Journals study published by the Association For Psychological Sciences on the growing disconnect with nature with modern societies, is causing growing concerns not only because they imply foregone physical and psychological benefits from engagement with nature, but also because cultural products are agents of socialization that can evoke curiosity, respect, and concern for the natural world.  However, fortunately, there is numerous documented evidence of some humans respectively connecting to nature and experiencing great physical and mental health as a result.

Forest bathing, or “Shinrin-yoku”, as they call it in Japan, is a famous way of spending time in nature.  A 2012 Biomedical Environmental Science (NIH) research has shown that people who practice forest bathing have optimum nervous system functions, well-balanced heart conditions, and reduced bowel disorders.  Another 2015 Health Place (NIH) study concluded that those who exercised outdoors are less fatigued and have fewer chances of suffering from obesity and related conditions, especially in children 9 through 12 of age.

The study concluded that children with better access to park and recreational resources are less likely to experience significant increases in attained BMI (body mass index).  Connecting to nature helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions, providing a “mental health prescription” according to Stanford researchers in a 2015 “Stanford Researchers Find Mental Health Prescription: Nature” study.

The Awesome Healing Power Of Spirituality

A 2008 Sage Journals study published in Psychological Science on the cognitive benefits of nature found that subjects who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than the subjects who walked down the urban streets.  A 2013 Journal of Affected Disorders (NIH) study has shown that people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders showed significant mood uplifting when exposed to nature.

Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy.  Other NIH-reviewed 2010 Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine research revealed that being outdoor reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol reducing harmful inflammation.

Cortisol can be very damaging to health if not regulated and kept in balance.

A 2009 Sage Journals “Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park” study found evidence that indicate strong environmental connections to be related to better performance, heightened concentration, and reduced chances of developing Attention Deficit Disorder in children (ADD).  And yet another 2012 “Researchers Find Time in Wild Boosts Creativity, Insight and Problem Solving” study, at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.

Being out in nature enhances our spirituality.  Simply breathing out in nature gives us wholesome sensory awareness.  When we spend time outdoors, we are more mindful and respectful of what we see, what we hear, what we smell, and what we feel, according to a 2011 Elsevier research published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences.  Are you convinced yet?

Here is one more 2013 American Chemical Society (ACS) study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology that moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits.

Again, what are the Benefits With Meditation, and what is mindfulness and spiritual meditation, our spirituality particularly, when connected to nature, and what role can it play in your health and mental well being?  There is a spiritual enhancement that is linked to the mindfulness or meditative human-nature relationship, determined a 2020 Mayo Clinic “Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress” research.

The connection between nature and spirituality is clearly defined in this 2011 research by head researcher Helen Lockhart at Stellenboash University, in the central premise of this thesis is that humans are disconnected and alienated from Nature and it proposes that we need to attempt to restore this connection in order to overcome the current socio-ecological crises which threaten our survival as a species on the planet.

Each encounter with the natural environment takes us deeper into exploring the truth behind our existence and what a happier world would look like.  Studies, like a 2013 Journal of Affected Disorders (NIH) study, had shown that people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders showed significant mood upliftments when exposed to nature. Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy. The subject matter of this study is that materialistic gains has blindfolded us and has made us spiritually bankrupt.

The research also indicated that since humans are genetically conditioned to stay in close coexistence with nature, an absence of nature-human connection creates a sense of loneliness and unhappiness within us. The results of a 2014 frontiers In Psychology study reviewed by the NIH suggest that closer human-nature relationships do not have to come at the expense of happiness. Rather, this meta-analysis shows that being connected to nature and feeling happy are, in fact, connected.

deep-breathing-for-relaxing-and concentration
Deep Breathing For Relaxing and Concentration

According to numerous research, like this 2012 Brain Behavioral Immunity (NIH) study, confidently shows that nature mindfulness practice is correlated with stress reduction, brain plasticity and gene expression.  Here are 2 more studies which confirmed the connection between nature, mindfulness and meditation, and health:  study 1, per a Psychoneuroendocrinology (NIH) study; and study 2 improving cognition, per a 2015 Behavioral Brain Research (NIH) study.

Another 2012 Brain Behavioral Immunology (NIH) study conducted in the USA suggests that mindfulness has an effect on gene expression and can therefore reduce morbidity in older adults.

It is your awareness that you should attend to your psyche, being mindful of your self, by nurturing compassion and care for our world and all that’s in it, so it is kindled within yourself, and simultaneously, forming a deeper connection to caring for nature and all living creatures.  Spiritual well being is the experience of your own nature deep within, providing the connection to this vital relationship with self, with others, and with nature.

For example, a person’s well being is clearly enhanced with their connection to nature activities such as gardening, swimming in the ocean, wild bird watching, taking your pet for a walk, or backpacking, according to a 2016 PLOS/ONE “30 Days Wild: Development and Evaluation of a Large-Scale Nature Engagement Campaign to Improve Well-Being” study.

Read these articles on gardening, birdwatching, taking your pets for a walk, or camping and backpacking, and swimming in the ocean, for more in depth studies.  Your connection to, according to University of Minneasota 2016 “How Do Thoughts and Emotions Affect Health?” research, your own essential nature eliminates negative emotions, stress, confusion, anger, frustration, and more importantly your health and the health of others, and elevates your consciousness and nurtures a spirit of genuine caring for all living things in nature and the whole universe.

By reconnecting with nature (1), you are being mindful of self, and as part of the Benefits With Meditation, you will receive wisdom, be nurtured with a stronger foundation, strengthening your spiritual well being, and live a life peacefully and justly with nature and all living things. In you forming a strong spiritual well being, you will no longer experience fear of change or concerns of what the future holds because you will have in your possession a consistent source of strength, comfort, peace, meaning, and understanding.

Long Living “Mindfulness” Meditation For Wellness

Turning to nature will release your inner voice, and by listening to your inner desires, you will experience feelings of fulfillment, peace, and happiness. Connecting to nature in prayer, thus oneself, you will find the easiest path to calmness, which you can always summon and always rely on, particularly with difficult emotions, when life gets difficult or chaotic, like the death of a loved one, per A University of Wisconsin-Madison 2010 “Prayer Can Help People Handle Difficult Emotions, Study Suggests” study.

Let go of your ego, and turn inward to discover the great abundance of the universe, by developing your powerful intention, and mindfully releasing it, knowing that the greater power will deliver what you need.  Turning inward will release you from the burdens of stress and strife depriving you of enjoying life, and negatively affecting you physically, mentally and emotionally.

Accept change and uncertainty as being good, and as a healthy challenge, because it is the foundation and source for creativity and freedom, found a 2005 National Center on Education and Economy “The Sources of Innovation and Creativity” research.

Food For Thought

Have you ever noticed a tree, even accidentally? I mean really noticed it? And, it became a revelation to you! You may have even thought, I am really no different from that tree. And, you are right. A deep, peaceful existence emanates from it, as its presence settles deep down in you, as you experience the Benefits With Meditation. Or, you are sitting quietly and comfortably under a tree, experiencing nature’s surroundings, and that same sense of deep peace overtakes you, and all of a sudden everything in the world feels right.

When you surrender, you have become aware of the presence of true nature and you feel relieved because you feel an overwhelming connection because you are part of it, as you are connected with the universe, or God, or the Creator of all things, or whatever you want to call the experience.

You know, beyond a shadow of doubt, you feel it because your faith has been strengthened! You weren’t expecting a profound experience, but it happened inspite of you. Can you imagine what kind of revelations you can have if you intentionally made an effort to be a part of and communicate with nature or divine guidance frequently, as confirmed in a 2014 Journal of Mental Health, Religion and Culture” study? What about our children?

Healthy Life Extending Meditation

From their research there is a movement at the 2013 World Forum Foundation’s Nature Action Collaborative for Children “Nature Explore” to creating intentionally designed spaces that inspire children and peak their curiosity to connect with the wonders and benefits of nature on a daily basis. Not so long ago, most children lived close to fields or forests and nature which they could explored at their leisure or playing.

Some children still enjoy the luxury of these spaces; sadly, most no longer do, because they’re gone and been replaced with urban sprawl!  The bells and whistles of technology keep children indoors staring at screens. Even when they do go outdoors in centers or schools, children play on sterol “safety surfaces” and plastic structures.

In our well-meaning attempts to keep children from harm, we have removed much of what could bring them joy, happiness, creativity, and revelation. The researchers have seen first-hand the powerful transformation of bodies, minds, and spirits when daily connections with nature’s wisdom are possible. Per the research,

It’s time for our children to again grow up a little dirtier but a lot happier. We hope you will join us in making it so.

As far as nature is concerned you are perfect, you are unique, different, and an individual, and there is nothing wrong with you. You are designed to be different from everyone else, as everyone else is different from you and each other. At least temporally, the relentless clock and time ceases to exist and time stands still, or really slows down. Everything slows down. You have enough to sustain yourself, and you will survive, if you are in balance, and can live in harmony and peace. You are called back to reality. Always remember that life has hardships and you can’t and are not able to control everything in life, nor, are you supposed to.

Nature reminds you that death, at least of the physical body and the material perspective of the living, is part of life as it supposed to be, and displays it proudly in dead and decaying trees, and other forms of passed-life. Wikipedia has a wonderful study on physical death you may want to read. But what about human consciousness, your spirituality? A new 2019 Southern Illinois University study reveals a new understanding of death.

Long Healthy Meditation and Wellness

Its significance to psychology, philosophy, and religion is huge because what emerges is a long overlooked phenomenon: a nonsupernatural, relativistic, timelessly eternal consciousness, which can be a naturally “spiritualistic” afterlife, per a ResearchGate 2020 “The Theory of a Natural Eternal Consciousness: The Psychological Basis for a Natural Afterlife” study.

Ironically, the validity of the theory of a natural eternal consciousness (NEC) depends on the loss of materially-based consciousness at death, specifically, the permanent loss of time perception.

The theory claims, and the article deduces from empirical knowledge, that by imperceptibly entering the timelessness before death, one’s final conscious moment, whatever the type, becomes by default—psychologically, from one’s perspective, and becomes a forever present moment. Quoting the study:

An open-minded reader should reveal that the NEC and natural afterlife do not threaten a faith in God or a heavenly afterlife.

The awesomeness of nature captivates one! As the craziness, confusion, and noisiness around you subside, you experience a feeling of calmness and stillness, and it such a relief. You are in kinship, appreciating nature’s beauty and awesomeness, because you are connected and part of it, and you are no better or no worse than any of its existence.

You truly know who you are because you are reminded of it with every visit, drawn to it in your peacefulness and in quiet strength.  As you connect with the external life force, or God, or whatever your name for it is, it’s powerful, loving presence envelopes you, inspiring you, bringing you guidance and wisdom and peace, and healing you.

Studies, like this 2018 Emotions (NIH) one, have confirmed the inspiring and healing-power of nature. This study cites 2 examples of military veterans suffering with PTSD and a white-watering trip and undergraduate students on nature walks experiencing well being.

Another 2019 Frontiers In Psychology (NIH) study confirmed nature’s ability to induce intense emotions in humans of “awe” which is defined by feelings of fear, threat, vulnerability, fragility, and respect for nature, which is perceived as vast, powerful, and mysterious; and “inspiring energy” which was defined by feelings of vitality, joy, energy, oneness, freedom, eternity, and harmony with the universe.

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Deepening Your Spiritual Well Being Connection

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One final thought. Not only will you returning to nature and meditating, balance your spiritual well being, it will also balance all of your other dimensions, as well: Your physical, emotional, social, occupational, intellectual, and environmental.

Once you have had the chance to find yourself alone and experienced the Benefits With Meditation, and you’ve found the answer to what is mindfulness and spirituality? We hope to hear from you. If you have any questions or comments, or desire additional information, please contact us.

(A) Use these links for more in depth information, more documented studies, and to purchase any of these incredible nutrient-dense foods that will bring you a life of optimal health and wellness, by boosting your spirituality.

(1)  Ian Banyard author and nature connection guide video